CT 89

This northeastern route lies in the middle of a geographical progression of odd-numbered routes extending from Route 77 in south central Connecticut to Route 97 in the east. State routes 91, 93 and 95 no longer exist, because of conflicts with nearby interstate routes.

In Westford, Route 89 overlaps with a very old alignment of Route 197 along Turnpike Road.

Route 89 is the only two-digit state route that terminates at a three-digit state route on both ends.

If you like abandoned or "ghost" highways, Route 89 has two segments of former alignment that are no longer open to traffic. See details below.

CT 89 History

Route 89 dates back to 1932. Its original path, from south to north:

Finding Abandoned Route 89, Mansfield

About 1 mile of the original Route 89 in Mansfield is no longer open to traffic. In 1952, an earthen dam on the Natchaug River was constructed in the area, creating Mansfield Hollow Lake on the site of a swampy area known as Turnip Meadow.

The original alignment veers north of Route 89 just north of Pine Woods Lane; a trail forks to the left leading into the forest. Some of the route appears to be still paved. At the causeway over the Fenton River leading into the lake, Old 89 crosses New 89, and then follows the northern shoreline of the lake. Most of this route has pavement remaining. It then veers northeast through the woods to reconnect just south of Atwoodville Road. Here, the unnamed, unmapped road ends at Route 89 with a stop sign.

There's a good view of old Route 89 at the end of Atwoodville Road in Google Street View.

Finding Abandoned Route 89, Ashford

About 3.5 miles of the original Route 89 in Ashford and Union is no longer open to traffic; this area is mostly forest. Shown on a 1952 USGS map (hosted at UNH; 2 MB JPEG scan) is the original alignment: a dotted line leading from Nagy Road in Ashford to Town Hall Road (now Scranton Road) in Union. There are faint traces of this road from the air; it would be interesting to see what's on the ground. It's not part of a state park, and might be private property.

In 1942, this portion of Route 89 was relocated to Ferrence Road and Fish Point Road, where it is located today. The 1940s route was more curvy around the Wilbur Cross Highway intersection (now an interchange on I-84); this 1-mile segment was reconstructed and made safer in 1965.

Other old sections

At the intersection of Portland Road in Ashford, there is a short segment of old Route 89 (to the east) no longer open to traffic; it abuts private property and was the subject of a lawsuit by the town against the property owner. It was abandoned by the state in 1940 and closed by the town in 1941, but the town still owns that property.

More plans in Ashford

In 1955, the state conducted a study for rebuilding and widening about 3 miles of Route 89 from Bicknell Road to Sand Hill Road. The existing pavement was 14' with 3' shoulders (quite narrow); the proposed improvement was 22' blacktop with 6' shoulders. It appears Route 89 was widened here but not realigned, although the state does mention associating Route 89 with "an abandoned section of Mansfield Road" in Ashford in 1968. I don't have details on where that was.

Short-lived Route 89 and 19 redefinition
1961 CT state map, Stafford and Union, showing odd alignment of CT 19The 1961 Connecticut state highway map echoes the changes shown in the state's highway logs. For one year, Route 19 was apparently extended eastward along former Route 20 into Union.

Strange realignment retracted the following year

In the 1950s, today's Route 190 in Stafford and Union was part of Route 20. Route 20 in the area became Route 190 in July 1961, in concert with a number of changes at the opening of the Bradley Airport Connector.

In 1960, however, the state had truncated Route 20 at Stafford, and redesignated East Main Street and Buckley Highway as part of Route 19 (see map above). At the intersection with Route 89, Route 19 ended and Route 89 continued east, to end at Route 15 (now I-84), one exit beyond where those routes had already crossed.

This rerouting is bizarre. I saw the map first and thought, "OK, map error." Then when I saw the ConnDOT spreadsheet: "Possible clerical error, reflected in a map." The emergence in May 1960 of a paragraph in the Hartford Courant, meaning the Highway Department issued a press release, tips this case into the "intentional change" bucket. In any case, the decision was reversed in 1961.

Truncation in favor of Route 195, probably for UConn traffic

On Dec. 1, 1964, Route 89's south end was moved from Lebanon to Mansfield, making it shorter. Former Route 89 from Route 87 to Route 32 became the new Route 289. Former Route 89 from Route 66 to today's 89/195 intersection became part of Route 195.

I'm guessing this was done to provide a more direct route to the University of Connecticut from US 6. The Hartford Courant article announcing the change reads: "State highway officials could not be contacted to determine the reason for the change Monday night." And the story was not followed up.

CT 89 Future

Though it is lightly traveled throughout, Route 89 may see more traffic from future development near the I-84 interchange in Ashford. The Windham Regional Planning Agency in 2001 predicted that "Route 89 in particular will require realignment within the next decade if traffic volumes increase as projected." The decade has passed without this happening, so it remains filed under "future".

CT 89 Quotes

In truth, I didn’t care one bit about Boston on that spring day in 1963. Instead, I wanted to learn about Warrenville, a village a few miles northeast of the town of Mansfield, Connecticut, where we were then living. I had memorized the map of Mansfield, and knew all the school-bus routes by heart—a litany I would sing out to anybody I could corner. But Warrenville was in the town of Ashford, for which I had no guide, and I remember the blissful sense of resolution I felt when I certified that Route 44A crossed Route 89 in the town center, for I had long hypothesized that they might meet there. Of such joys and pains was my childhood composed.

Tim Page, "Parallel Play: A lifetime of restless isolation explained." The New Yorker, Aug. 20, 2007. (Unfortunately, US 44A and CT 89 have never intersected. Perhaps the author meant US 44.)

CT 89 Kurumi Suggests

In general, I like longer, continuous routes (like the old 89) and number clustering like (87/89 in Lebanon). Therefore, I like Route 89 better the way it was.

CT 89 Sources